Friday, December 9, 2016

Nature's Sacred Voice

My backyard and beyond. Who knew what the ground looked like?
  As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease.
Genesis 18:22
It was You who set all the boundaries of the earth; You made both summer and winter.
Psalm 74:17

I love the greens and blues in nature, especially the perfect color sky and the rich, bright yellow-green in spring eaves. The fall palette of colors is my favorite set. I’d use them for clothes, d├ęcor, transportation,... That confines my appreciation of nature to a limited few months of the year. But I deeply experience God in nature and I need as many sources of His voice as possible! So I decided to be a grown-up and to go outside, even though the leaves were no longer on the trees. It was an almost freezing, winter day, and I was surprised by the beauty that I saw.

Winter Beauty

A dead tree giving life, circa yesterday in my backyard.
There’s something about seeing the land that struck me as incredibly delicious. The trees and the sky have distracted me from the land. Now that the leaves are gone, I can’t help but see it. The color of the crushed, drying leaves on the ground, the shape of the tree trunks and limbs, the massive army in the woods standing serenely, holding rank, guarding, securing... everything. They created a sanctuary I wanted to be in. I felt pulled (though I didn’t yield) into the woods to see what I would not have seen in the summer or early fall. The whole woodland was laid bare for me to enjoy. I could imagine the massive network of roots interlocking and buzzing with life, mineral, energy, feeding this entire army. It’s as if they said, you let my pretty looks fool you. We trees are more than our colors. We are structure, support, food, home, anchor. 

They anchored the ground, which was no longer hidden. It was just there, all the holes that hinted at the network of passages below for chipmunks and voles and other rodents. But no matter how it changes, what it was covered with, the ground just continued. Moving uphill a bit then down, spreading in every direction. I was hit with the massiveness of the underneath. 

Lessons and Applications

  1. Losing leaves and flowers isn’t a bad thing. It helps us see what else is really there, underneath. The expanse of it, the structure of it, the support it provides, for good or ill. The damage to it, the erosion of it, the success or failure of the things we planted in it, put on it or used it to make. Maybe seeing the ground is a gift. Everything goes back to the ground anyway. Seeing the space that had once been covered with shrubs and leaves and shade... that also gave me ideas. I know what’s growing in the spring, and maybe I don't want that shut growing just there... Maybe I want to reclaim some to the ground. Repurpose it. Re-decorate it. Some of the ground needs to be left bare, to remind me of the massive underneath that supports and nourishes and protects me and all of us that live on it. 
  2. Sometimes, the stripping away that happens in winter is for good. God's message to Jeremiah was that he was called to overthrow, and to uproot and to destroy, AND to build and plant (Jer. 1:10). Jesus said that wheat and weeds grow together for a time until the wheat can manage the removal of the weeds without being destroyed (Matt. 13:29-30). Jesus also talked about the pruning that is part of healthy growing (John 15: 2). I pray for the heart to co-operate with God during these times while seeing the incredible gifts underneath the finery that once was.
I've found that my parenting journey often takes me through winter seasons when things are stripped away and the good, bad, and ugly stare me in the face. For today, I agree with God and embrace His guidance towards faith and trust and I remain open to the gifts in the winter season.

Dear Lord, Thank you for your love, that shows itself to me in the abundant, more than enough life, as well as in the winter seasons, when scarce resources seem missing. Please help me to hear you, to see you, to relax into your beautiful hands as I look with curiosity around me at the winter terrain, available for exploration and learning.

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